Bollywood’s newly released historical account Padmaavat’s fate of existence correlates with that of another contentious masterpiece film, The Da Vinci Code-2006. Time after time fanaticism gathers momentum thwarting creativity, art, and diverse forms of recreation simply because they do not translate their ideological perception.
Prospect The Da Vinci Code-2006
Even though not part of my 100 best films of 100 years, I am feeling a bit relieved after watching the film, Padmaavat finally, that too after a long wait. Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s films never cease to sustain greater entertainment fervour. The film is so full of entertainment that I could not hold my enthusiasm but to write a review since Padmaavat-2018 and The Da Vinci Code-2006 stand on the same stage of controversies.
After a huge hue and cry the 33milion dollar film Padmaavat is released on 25 January 2018 on nearly 5,000 screens across the nation. Despite the nationwide ban, the film earned an estimated 62 million dollars worldwide.
The film has resulted in enormous controversies across India. The censor board of India, at last, gave a green signal to the film which is one of the most expensive films in the history of Bollywood. Being spent 300 million dollars Padmaavati remains one of the ten highest-grossing films all the time.
The 2006 Hollywood film The Da Vinci Code-2006 too heated up the air of the religious world. Based on the novel of the name by Dan Brown, the copyright was bought from the author for 6 million dollars and came out as a controversial film later.
The film’s subjection to the fierce disputation is centred on the fact that Jesus Christ (known as Isa, to Muslims) married Mary Magdalene of Magdala in northern Israel. The secrete conjugation of the duos has been covered up by the Priory Of Sion, a secret society founded in modern-day by Pierre Plantard in France in 1956.
Hence, Leonardo Da Vinci’s wall painting The Last Supper, 1498, holds the secret of the French Merovingian Dynasty.
Along with Sir Isaac Newton, Leonardo Da Vinci was one of the grandmasters of Priory Of Sion originally founded by a First Crusader Godfrey of Bouillon in Mount Zion in 1099. According to the novel, Dan Brown portrayed, based on the painting The Last Supper, that the leaning figure on Jesus left was not indeed John but Mary Magdalene, and she fled to France after Jesus’ crucifixion.
Being pregnant during the crucifixion, Mary supposedly gave birth to one or more children, and the Holy Bloodline was instilled in The Merovingian Dynasty in France with the help of Priory Of Sion, a fringe-friendly organisation. Regardless of disagreements by the art scholars, Dan Brown imagines the leaning figure besides Jesus to be a woman equating the Monalisa-myth which portrays a man and a woman at the same time. However, the Bible says it is actually a man, Saint John.
Starring Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou The Da Vinci Code-2006 was a hot cake of conspiracy theory. which was instantaneously devoured by readers without having historical facts been checked. Coining blasphemy, the Catholic Organisation Opus Dei resisted the film a ‘total shame to Christianity and Jesus’’.
Posing as symbologist Robert Langdon along with cryptographer police Sophie were looking for the Holy Grail which contains secret to the ancestry of Jesus’ bloodline in the Merovingian Dynasty. In their journey to the discovery they in Rosslyn Chapel, Scotland found that Sophie is indeed the last descendant of Jesus Christ.
According to The Guardian report, Opus Dei’s repeated appeal to the director of the film to add a disclaimer of a fictional character, the director responded saying, “those characters in this work of fiction act and react on the premise. It’s not theology. It’s not history. To start off with a disclaimer……spy thriller don’t start with a disclaimer’’.
The Guardian adds more to quote the director, Ron Howard said that, “a reader without much knowledge of history may reach false occlusion and might even feel less sympathetic toward the church, which nonetheless worthy respect’’.
Even though historically and scientifically the estimation of Dan Brown is flawed, people around the world took the fiction for the fact, which we usually do. If Jesus is the ancestor of Sophie, which is decoded from the wall painting The Last Supper of Jesus Christ, then almost everyone on the planet has Jesus’ blood.
If one generation has a 25-30 years span of time then we need just 80 generations to trace Jesus’ existence. Taking the two millennia and Jesus’ children into consideration we would find a few common ancestors back, and Jesus’ one among them.
Moreover, Leonardo Da Vinci drew the painting based on the New Testament account a millennium later of Jesus’ crucifixion exactly the way we draw a whole picture in our imagination pertaining to the synoptic gospels.
Following the controversial orientation of the novel and the film people from across the world protested the film triggering a ban in numerous countries including Syria, Egypt, China, Belarus, India, Jordan, Iran, Lebanon, Pakistan, Philippines, Samoa, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh.
It does not matter how many people denounce the film and any upcoming creations of such –whether fiction or art– groundbreaking theory, thought, invention, films portraying social or historical inconsistencies, boycott, demonstration, contestation, protests, denigration will never cease to appear on our mind as well.
Speaking of Padmaavat, Bollywood’s most creative and innovative director, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, came up with yet another marvellous piece of film in 2017. Because of political bickering and censorship difficulty, Padmavati took time to appear amidst film lovers.
On 25 January 2018, the film was finally released. But the film has been dubbed as blasphemous. The romance between the Hindu Queen of Chittor of Mewa, Padmavati, and the Delhi King Alauddin Khilji who raided Chittor Forte to marry her was taken as Muslim subordination of Hindus.
Vandalism was unleashed across the whole of India by Rajput Sabha and Karni Sena, the self-appointed vigilante of the Rajput Class. The Hindustan Time reported of frequent vandalism, clash and mass protests, and burning of passengers on the buses by protestors while BJP dominant states determined not to screen the film.
The Times of India reported the film supporters to be harassed by the protestors, and film crews were forced to leave the shooting site from Joypur. A Karni Sena chief was quoted saying,’ we learned that the filmmakers are portraying the film as a love story between Alauddin Khilji and Padmini, which is a blatant distortion of history.
The Telegraph reports of the director being attacked, and a bounty of 600,000 pounds for actress Dipika Padukone’s head. The Karni Sena chief was cited as saying, “Rajput never raise their hands to women but if it need be, we will do to Dipika what Lakshman did to Shurpanakha”- a Ramayana legend where a demon princess chop her nose off as a way of punishment.
Based on Padmaavat, the epic written by sixteen-century Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jaiyasi’s fictitious account of the romance between Padmini or Padmavati, the queen of Chittor, and Delhi King Alauddin Khilji, the film does not claim the accuracy of the historical incidences as depicted in the film. It is pretty obvious that Bhansali did not want to teach history via the film rather intended to entertain the mass with a little glimpse of the fact from history.
Even though the film is named after the epic, there is a considerable number of inconsistencies between filmy depiction and poetic narration. According to Wikipedia, The poet narrates: ‘Padmavati, the princess of Sinhal (Currently Sri Lanka) developed a close friendship with a talking parrot named Hiraman. Because of her family’s disproval of the relationship the parrot was released instead of killing. But the parrot was caught by a catcher and ultimately ended up in Chittor of Mewa.
Hearing about the great beauty of Padmini, Ratansen, the ruler of Mewa attacked Sinhal in the guise of ascetic along with his 16,000 bassals, princes, and the parrot as a guide.
Being defeated and caught Ratansen was about to be executed when the king of Sinhal recognised him finally. But Ratansen did not want to leave without marrying the princess, Padmaavati.
Recalling the similarity with the Iliad of Homer, the epic tells that on their way back to Mewa they were caught by a storm in the sea where all but him and Padmavati were buried in the water. He and Padmavati were in fact rescued by the Ocean. Lakshmi, the daughter of Ocean later tested Ratansen’s love for Padmavati which he passed and returned to Chittor with rewards from Lakshmi and the Ocean.
But in the film, we witnessed Ratansen going to Sinhal to procure pearls for his first wife’s necklace which Ratansen later said: ‘I have come to search pearls but I have rather found you’’. And a Buddhist princess of Sinhal was taken as a Hindu queen to Chittor.
The banished courtier Raghava Chetan’s acts of treason are portrayed in the film. He was exiled because of his snooping to their private life. And was taken to Alauddin Khilji’s court because of his outstanding skill of flute playing from whom Alauddin Khilji heard of the beauty of Padmavati, was told that he can rule the world only if he can possess Padmavati. His secrete of power lies with her. Fuelled by the greed of beauty and power Alauddin Khilji began playing numerous of getting her.
Avoiding a near defeat Alauddin Khilji captured Ratansen and brought him to Delhi hoping that Padmavati might follow her husband and thereby end up in his clutch. But Padmavati’s acumen to handle political affairs had been able to rescue her husband by the help of Alauddin Khilji’s first wife, from the dungeon but at the cost of enormous bloodshed.
Enraged by a close assassin by his nephew and betrayal of his wife he is determined to declare war. A one-on-one battle between him and Ratansen nearly brought his fall but narrowly averted as Alauddin Khilji’s male caregiver Kafur pierced his back with multiple arrows.
Meanwhile, predicting the certain fall queen Padmavati and the Rajput women chose mass immolation, Jauhar, Instead of giving themselves in into Alauddin Khilji’s hand.
However, the epic’s narration varies from the above description of the film. It is not certain whether Raghav Chetan was banished or he chose to go to Alauddin Khilji. It was at the time, not Padmavati who came to rescue Ratansen, but the two bassals Gora and Badal. Moreover, according to the epic Ratansen never fought with Alauddin Khilji and died in a battle before Alauddin Khilji attacked Chittor.
Considering Homerian coincidence, political exploitation, religious inconsideration, cultural vulnerability, and social criticism and historical inconsistencies, literary significance and recreational value Padmavati is a wonderful making.
Peoples’ fallibility is not in not knowing the history and mixing the art and fiction with facts. Our fallibility lies in our inability to distinguish between what to learn and what not to. We simply forget that the films are made to entertain us and tend to lose entertaining values is romance is not involved which does not necessarily have to be grounded on facts.
Instead of portraying Alauddin Khilji as a historical figure Bansali never missed to depict him as a lover of Khilji who would fight to earn the favour from Padmavati. Historians rightly differ between Alauddin in film and Alauddin in history.
Our consciences and understanding are flawed if we completely expect our film industry to teach us morality and history. Cleopatra and Braveheart, for instance, are bound to feed us with pure history as Padmaavat and Da Vinci Code do not decide our course of faith in the real-life setting.
‘Beauty is the perception of beholder’’ said Rani Padmavati of asked by the courtier Brahmin Raghav Chetan. As Padmavati’s words of wisdom such as, ‘you can take away the pearls, but not the beauty of it’ is illuminating. We will never be able to win the pearls and their beauty until we learn to separate the fiction from the facts, and art and entertainment from factual learning.
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